Monday, September 21, 2009

Mountain Bikes, the Hill2Hill, and Why I Love My Nokia 5800

Yesterday, Sunday 20 September, was the annual Sunday Tribune/Jeep Hill2Hill Mountain Bike Race. The full 100km race is from Hilton, in the KZN midlands to Hillcrest, outside Durban, but for the slightly less fit there is a 43km option starting at Cato Ridge and running the same route through to the finish.

I volunteered to second for my brother on the 43km race, as my own preparation for the race had been hampered by a recent bout of flu. The start at Cato Ridge Golf Club was a chilly 9°C, even at 6:50am when my brother’s group got underway.

OK, so what has this to do with my Nokia 5800? Well, as I prepared to set off to the first spectator point in an area I was unfamiliar with, I activated Garmin Mobile XT application on my phone, which offers full SatNav and turn by turn instructions to keep me on track. I must say that ever since I first experienced SatNav in Japan in 2001, I love the freedom to explore without having to worry about getting lost.

Despite the shortcomings of Nokia Music, the 5800 is a great MP3 player, and connecting it to the car’s sound system allowed me to access all my favourite music from the 8GB memory card, and play it in seamlessly in the background, while still operating the Garmin XT system.

On arrival at the first spectator point I quickly opened Google Latitude’s fantastic S60 application, and was able to easily find my brother’s location in relation to my own, and time his arrival with precision. Great assistance when there were nearly 1,500 entrants streaming past.

While I was waiting, I opened my Twitter account via Snaptu, and was able to send off a couple of Tweets. That’s 4 different applications open simultaneously, and the ability to easily switch between them. Try doing that on an iPhone!

Back to the race. While waiting at the finish for my brother to arrive, the leader of the 100km race, DCM Chrome’s Brandon Stewart, entered the finish arena and took the win in a record time of 3:53, nearly 5 minutes ahead of 2nd place man Ben Melt Swanepoel. An incredible effort, with the winner averaging over 25km/h over some incredibly tough terrain and with over 1,900m of climbing.

My brother came in at a very respectable 3:23 a few minutes later; a great performance for his first competitive MTB race. Next year I hope I’ll be there too.

Thanks for reading.